When Mariel had her first baby, the “Manster”, nearly 2½ years ago, I wrote about her assuming the age-old mother-stance of leaning over the kitchen sink while cramming something resembling a meal into her starving self. She’s back at that same sink with the new guy in town – Ice – as his big bro dubbed him. And while Mr. Ice is perched on her hip rooting around for his next nursing, the fair-haired, slightly older Manster begs Mariel, in a dulcet-tone whine only a 2½-year-old can croon, to “make Mickey Mouse and Goofy and Minnie and…and…” out of Play-Doh.
My little girl is all grown up and a full-fledged stretched-thin mama. And I could not be prouder! Mariel knows it’s all worth it though and will reap the rewards of self-sacrifice when…she has grandchildren. I’m laughing loudly as I write this, but both young and old moms know this is the truth! Otherwise populating this planet would have ended millenniums ago.
So if Mariel has to slug food down her gullet, it needs to be rich in vitamins and protein and preferably a meal in a mug so she can gulp it while caring for her beautiful baby boys. This old mama wants to rescue and try to nurture my own little baby bird so I created a citrus-infused spin on veggie and barley soup. At first glance it might appear pricey, but it made 4-plus quarts of a nutritious and delicious brew, half of which remains on “ice” for the next snowy, sleepless, crazy kind of Mariel-mommy-day. Cheers to all the moms out there, old – new – and utterly exhausted!
Beef Barley and Mushroom Soup
1 cup barley, cooked according to package instructions – $1.59
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided – stock
2 lbs. boneless beef Chuck steak, cut into small chunks – $8.70
the juice of 1 large orange (1/3 cup) – $0.50
2 cups diced carrots – $0.99
1½ cups diced celery – $0.99
2 cups chopped leeks, the white and pale green parts – $1.50
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced – $0.89
½ lb. baby portabella mushrooms, sliced – $1.29
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme – $0.99
2 Bay leaves – stock
10 cups beef stock or low-sodium beef broth – $5.00
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $22.44
Total Per Serving: $2.24
1. Prepare the barley according to package directions and set aside.
2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high flame. Add the beef chunks, season with salt and pepper and brown the meat on all sides, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the squeezed orange juice and continue cooking 5 minutes.
4. Transfer the meat and all of the juices to a large bowl.
5. In the same pot, heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of oil over medium-high flame. Add all of the chopped and sliced veggies and sauté for about 20 minutes and beginning to turn golden.
6. Add the beef stock and bring to a boil. Lower the flame; add the fresh time and simmer the soup, partly covered, for 1 hour. Skim off any fat.
7. Add the cooked barley and simmer an additional 20 minutes until the barley has softened. Correct the seasonings and serve piping hot along with a crusty loaf of French bread and a tossed salad, if desired.